OSWEGO — A local landmark that has catered to comic book, collectibles and graphic novel enthusiasts for nearly three decades, the Oswego Comic Shop could change hands or close soon, as longtime owner to retire.
Arlene Spizman made the decision to step down from the Oswego Comic Shop in a Facebook announcement earlier this week. Spizman and her husband, Larry, own the former fire station building at 112 East Bridge Street and have yet to make a decision about the future of the space.
The Spizmans could sell the Comic Shop to continue under new ownership, another business could open in the space, or they could decide to sell the building altogether. Less than a year after the Comic Shop celebrated its 27th anniversary, Arlene Spizman announced that she would be leaving the company.
There is no official closing date for the store, but it will stop receiving new stock at the end of March.
Spizman cited a desire to spend time with his family, especially his grandchildren — a four-year-old granddaughter who lives on the West Coast and a second grandchild coming in June — as the reason for his decision to take his retirement.
“I just want to be more flexible so I can go visit and help when I can,” Spizman said. “It’s time.”
Before opening the comic book store, Spizman and her husband ran an antique store called Timestopper Antiques in the same building for about seven years.
Both Arlene and Larry Spizman developed an interest in collecting when they first moved to Oswego in 1978, when Larry was employed as an economics professor at SUNY Oswego. While looking for furniture and appliances, they liked the search so much that they started collecting.
“We just got caught up in the auctions and the shows,” Arlene Spizman said. “It was fun. It was a great place at the time to find things.
The idea to open the shop was born out of the death of one of the most recognizable characters in the comic book industry. In 1992, when Superman was killed off in the plot of his series, national interest in the comics surged, giving Spizman the idea to come in when business was booming.
“It was a good time to get into the business,” Spizman said. “At that time, I didn’t know anything about comics, but I learned very quickly.”
The store eventually branched out into businesses other than traditional comics. This included board games, sports cards, role-playing games, graphic novels, and manga. Spizman said she tried to stay ahead of the trends, but now that she’s retired from the business, she doesn’t know what’s next. She speculates that it will be “something electronic”.
With no other comic book stores in Oswego County, customers may be forced to travel all the way to Syracuse to meet their needs. News of the store’s closure sparked an outpouring of support for Spizman, longtime manager Martin Kinney and others at the store, with many lamenting the end of the small company’s tenure.
In the announcement, Spizman thanked the community for supporting the store over the years.
“I like people,” Spizman said. “I made so many friends and watched so many kids grow up and have kids of their own and it was awesome.”